Auction Pick of the Week: 1956 Continental Mark II

Hagerty Marketplace

It’s uncommon for an automaker to nail an ambitious design brief on the first try—but that’s exactly what Ford’s Continental Division did with the Mark II, intended to rival the biggest, best cars from the world’s most renowned luxury brands. Though the Mark II caused Ford to bleed cash on each build, and its high production cost resulted in its extinction, this rare, classic American luxury car was coveted in-period and has aged incredibly gracefully—right down to the four-pointed star on its hood, an ornament that cost as much to build as the wide, ribbed grille on a 1957 Ford.

1956 Continental Mark II logo star
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Nothing was too good for the Continental Mark II. Each of the 3012 cars, a run that was separated after the fact into the 1956 and ’57 model years, was built and painted by hand. The driveline was Lincoln’s Y-Block V-8, which made 285 horsepower backed up by a “Turbo-Drive” three-speed automatic transmission made by Lincoln and Borg-Warner. The list of standard equipment dripped with luxury: power steering, power brakes, power front seat, leather interior, radio, heater. Air conditioning was the only add-on.

The biggest names of the era flocked to the Mark II, which, at launch, cost a third more than a contemporary Cadillac Eldorado, the most luxurious car from Ford’s archrival General Motors. Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, and Elvis all owned a Mark II. The understated aesthetic of the car surely played a large role in its appeal: A Cadillac Eldorado Brougham of the same vintage bulges with chrome bumpers and trails a set of pointy tailfins, but the Mark II, with its barely there body surfacing, delicately textured egg-grate grille, and finned wheels, is the perfect model of aesthetic restraint, a statement of elegance and taste that only the richest could afford. (Of course, if you were Elvis, you simply bought a Mark II and an Eldo.)

That brings us to the example before us here, a Mark II built in September of 1955, a month before the model appeared at the Paris Auto Show. (Production had only started in July of that year, making this car a fairly early build.) Originally painted in Forest Green over an interior combination of Light and Medium Green, it wears a recent restoration in black over red: Very Louboutin, if you ask us, even if Christian didn’t paint a sole red until the ’90s. Thankfully, the shop that reimagined the color scheme only changed the color of the leather, leaving the simple, elegant single-button design on each bottom and back cushion. The four round gauges in the cluster are all correct, and the interior restoration appears to have preserved the original metal trim throughout. The only obvious bit that’s missing is a side mirror; check with Mark II Enterprises to see if they have an extra lying around.

1956 Continental Mark II interior
Hagerty Marketplace

The car is remarkably well preserved for a nearly 70-year-old vehicle; the listing mentions the only known imperfections as some slightly pitted interior chrome: The area of the dash underneath the ignition, for instance, is slightly worn. The odometer displays 79,252 miles, though the true mileage is unknown.

As fabulous as many cars are from the 1950s, few are as classy as the Continental Mark II. Imposing yet understated, this coupe is a worthy addition to any collection of timeless American classics. Bidding currently sits at $4000 and closes at 3:10 pm ET on Tuesday, April 9.


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    It’s a pretty accurate description and article about the Continental Mark 2 that is a fairly early car it just so happens that my father owns serial number 975 which is actually the first production car we’ve got five of them right now and he’s actually owns one that I kid you not as 981 original miles on it it is absolutely perfect but the 975 car the first production car is actually going to be for sale probably within the next 30 days or so and if you’re interested I’ll give you more information nice article

    I’m curious, does Hagerty do any of the restoring of these cars or are they privately owned or a barn find. Then they are sold, flipped, if you like. Because I haven’t found anything that states the answers to these questions unless I completely missed it. Thanks for your help

    It simply doesn’t get better than this. The mark is a perfect example of less is more design. Simple yet elegant lines the car was ahead of anything world wide in the luxury segment. The restoration certainly changed that cars personality. I’m not sure what the purest will think of that. But outstanding work for certain.

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